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Issue #1734      June 8, 2016

Culture & Life

Right-wing shenanigans

The effrontery of right-wing politicians knows no bounds, does it? In Brazil, right-wing politicians managed to force out of office the country’s democratically elected left-wing President, Dilma Roussef, who is untainted by the corruption that is so prevalent among her right-wing opponents, used their numbers in parliament to vote to impeach her … on charges of being corrupt! It’s an outrageous political stunt (Dilma has rightly labelled it a “coup”) but since the Right’s corporate mates control the country’s media many of the ordinary people will fall for the ploy.

In the face of unprecedented popular opposition, right-wing NSW Premier Mike Baird has rammed through an outrageous attack on democracy.

Back home, right-wing NSW Premier Mike Baird has rammed through an equally outrageous attack on democracy in local government. In the face of unprecedented popular opposition – petitions, legal challenges, rallies – he has slashed the number of local councils from 45 to 19. That this move is intended to make it much harder for residents to “interfere” with the profit-making plans of property developers and other business interests is not in doubt. However, Baird is from the same suave smiling school of reactionary politicians as federal Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull.

They despise the all-too-obvious crooked dealings of some councillors with links to property developers. They are not against crime, you understand (it’s a lucrative form of business, after all, and business is always a good thing). They just want it to be more sophisticated, less obviously degenerate. It’s rather like the difference between fascism and bourgeois democracy. Both systems are equally undemocratic, but one is openly terroristic in the interests of big business while the other camouflages the domination of capital behind a smokescreen of apparent popular control through well managed elections.

At the same time that Baird was eliminating people’s ability to effectively control their local affairs by ludicrously enlarging the area each council would have to oversee in future, he was tightening up some of the loopholes used by the more crass and corrupt among councillors and property developers.

In fact, this enabled him – defying all logic and common sense – to go so far as to make the astonishing declaration: “We want the community to have confidence in councils again” [!]. Yeah, sure you do, Mike. Pull the other one.

Meanwhile, the aping of Liberal Party policies by the right-wing of the ALP has had the inevitable result of leaving some ALP members, including even some candidates in the upcoming federal election, adrift as they cannot reconcile the professed “pro-people” position of the party’s propaganda with its actual policies as determined at national conferences.

The ALP candidate for the Western Sydney seat of Macarthur, Dr Michael Freelander, told The Daily Telegraph that while he “formally supported Labor’s policy” on asylum seekers, he personally believed the offshore processing centres should be closed down, saying “I would hate to think we would be torturing children in a place like Manus Island in a concentration camp.”

This candour got right up the nose of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Ms Bishop, of course, has never been incarcerated in a hell-hole like the Manus Island “processing centre” so she felt free to take the moral high ground and tell the media that she found his likening of conditions on Manus with Nazi Germany’s forced labour/extermination camps “quite frankly, shocking”. Besides, he is a Labor candidate so she felt free to get stuck into him. I seriously doubt that the refugees confined on Manus would agree with her argument.

Dr Freelander didn’t get much support from Labor leader Bill Shorten, however. Shorten has always been a right-winger so he is in the awkward position of agreeing with the basic tenets of Liberal Party policy. He consequently gets embarrassed when Labor candidates actually attack the Libs. The fact that several Labor MPs as well as Labor candidates have openly questioned the party’s policy on asylum seekers has left him struggling to distance himself from such unfortunate utterances as Dr Freelander’s (“I don’t accept that language … at all” Shorten told reporters) while simultaneously trying to avoid any appearance of a rift in the ALP.

Shorten’s opponent, Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, is a wealthy merchant banker. It is not that he cannot relate to ordinary working people, it is just that he has no interest in understanding their problems. Faced with making a choice between cutting company tax (and hence government income) on the one hand, and cutting government services to the poor or disadvantaged on the other, a Turnbull-led government will always come down on the side of cutting services. Turnbull and his ilk will always protect the interests of their class.

Take the issue of domestic violence. A wealthy man’s abused wife gets herself a good (expensive) lawyer and sues the bastard, taking his Merc as part of the settlement. An abused working class woman does not have that facility. Her only recourse is to flee, but where? The Abbott and Turnbull Liberal governments have slashed the funding for women’s refuges forcing most to close. I am sure Mr Turnbull loses very little sleep over this. Like his conservative counterparts in such other countries as Britain and the USA, he no doubt has confidence that whatever hardships arise from this can and will be taken care of by churches and other charitable organisations (if they have any funds and personnel left over after feeding and clothing the growing army of the destitute and homeless).

In Britain, the right-wing government of David Cameron has been trying to dismantle that country’s very popular National Health Service so that the “private health care industry” can flourish. In Australia, the Libs are trying to do the same to Medicare, and for the same reason. It’s of no consequence to the rich (like Turnbull and his friends), for they can afford private hospitals and fee-for-service health care. It’s the working class and those on fixed incomes who will suffer. And the rich don’t give a stuff about them!

We must make sure that Turnbull and the Libs don’t win the upcoming federal election and that the Greens, who strongly support Medicare, gain enough extra seats to make their wishes felt.

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